THE BLOG
04/24/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Tiger, Tiger, and the Fearful Asymmetry of Celebritydom

Though Tiger Woods has burned bright over the years, William Blake did not have the golfer in mind when he wrote "The Tyger." Nor would Blake have compared Woods to the Lamb later in the poem.

In his title character, Blake, the great Romantic poet and painter, was invoking one of the most fearsome creatures on the planet as an exemplar of the sublime. But what could be less sublime than watching the robotic Woods, sans wedding ring, read from prepared remarks like a bad actor? Few things could be less sublime than the appearance of Dr. Drew Pinsky, star of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, on Larry King Live.

Introduced by King as the man "who, as you all know, is an expert on the psychological aspects of things," Pinsky, who received his M.D. in internal medicine, not psychiatry, proceeded to note that Woods looked "depressed" during his nationally televised speech. He added that Woods could become "severely depressed" and that the golfer failed to say that he is a "sick person."

It would have been nice if King had challenged Pinsky's diagnosis of Woods, for Woods does not suffer from depression at all. What he has suffered from is hubris.

Woods did not look depressed when he gave his scripted talk. He looked chagrined that he had been caught as an adulterer and that he had to speak before the cameras about it. Nor was he immune to a little anger when he displayed his trademark steely-eyed gaze in stating that the "questions and answers" about his affairs would remain between him and his wife, Elin.

Just as clinical depression is nothing that comes and goes based on a child's performance at video games, a point I made in a recent piece, it is also nothing that comes and goes based on whether or not one gets caught committing adultery.

Clinical depression is something that remains with someone for his or her life. In my case, I can't remember a time when I wasn't depressed, though I have learned how to keep it in check.

It is understandable that members of the public use the word, "depression," in a generic sense. It is, after all, part of the vernacular. But Dr. Drew, who was hailed in a recent New York Times Magazine piece as being "fluent in ... neuroscience ... and psychodynamics," should know better. He is a physician, certified in addiction medicine. When he says that someone could become severely depressed, he is seemingly speaking with a degree of authority as a mental-health professional. The Times Magazine article praised him for his "gravitas," though again it bears repeating that Pinsky's background is in internal medicine, not psychiatry.

One person who was not falling for any of the tripe uttered by Pinsky or Woods was Stephen A. Smith, the Philadelphia Inquirer sports columnist. The voice of reason on Larry King's show, Smith argued that Woods had "manipulated" everyone with his lies about his behavior.

Smith also disagreed with his friend, former NBA player John Salley, in doubting Pinsky's diagnosis that Woods suffers from sex addiction. King did mention that not everyone agrees that there is such a thing as sex addiction, but Pinsky was not to be foiled. He insisted that sex addiction is a legitimate disorder and that treatment for it can take three to five years.

As evolution has taught us, males of every species often seek multiple partners to propagate their own seed. But men are not simply physical creatures. Men are endowed with a cortex, a superb invention that can teach us, among other things, to read, write, empathize and show restraint unknown to lions and tigers, who sometimes kill the offspring of their rivals.

When it comes to celebrities in this reality TV era in which we live, I fear that there is no symmetry worthy of William Blake. Only bad behavior and exploitation.